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Ram Hill Colliery and dramway

A Scheduled Monument in Westerleigh, South Gloucestershire

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Latitude: 51.5204 / 51°31'13"N

Longitude: -2.464 / 2°27'50"W

OS Eastings: 367900.820624

OS Northings: 180270.254565

OS Grid: ST679802

Mapcode National: GBR JX.HDWQ

Mapcode Global: VH88J.71QR

Entry Name: Ram Hill Colliery and dramway

Scheduled Date: 19 December 2005

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1021386

English Heritage Legacy ID: 28889

County: South Gloucestershire

Civil Parish: Westerleigh

Built-Up Area: Coalpit Heath

Traditional County: Gloucestershire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Gloucestershire

Church of England Parish: Coalpit Heath

Church of England Diocese: Bristol


The monument includes the above ground and buried remains of Ram Hill
Colliery and dramway lying on high ground south of the railway line running
south of Coalpit Heath.
The monument includes the shaft, gin house, boiler house, reservoir, engine
house, coal bunkers, dramway and arch, and lies partly within the garden of a
private house, and partly in rough ground to the north. The stone-lined oval
shaft lies in the central eastern part of the site and measures about 1.5m
east-west by 2.25m north-south. The shaft is situated within the southern
part of the gin house, which in turn is 17.5m long north-south with the
circular horse gin being at the northern end measuring about 10m in diameter
with walls standing to 0.7m high. To the east of the gin house, are the
footings of a stone building standing between 0.5m and 1m high and measuring
about 7m north-south by 9m east-west. This building is subdivided into a
number of areas, and is thought to have been the engine house of the pit.
North of this is the unexcavated boiler house and reservoir.
Directly west of the horse gin, but at a lower level is the arch which forms
the terminus of the dramway. The arch stands to approximately 2.4m high and
is 3m wide and about 2m deep. It is blocked on its east side by stone
walling. On the floor to the west of the arch are a number of stone sleeper
blocks containing holes for the attachment of the rails of the dramway. The
dramway cutting is approximately 10m wide, and is bordered on the south by a
wall, thought to have formed part of the coal bunker or loading bay. This
wall stands to between 1m and 1.5m high, and from here the coal was shovelled
down onto the dram trucks. There were two dramways in operation side by side.
The northern one ended at the arch, and the southern one was flanked by the
coal bunkers or loading bays. From the arch, the dramway runs west for about
12m at which point it is blocked by rubble and trees, but continues beyond
this unexcavated.
Ram Hill Colliery stands at the northern end of the dramway which was built
in 1828 to take coal from the East Bristol coalfield to Bristol and to the
River Avon near Keynsham. The colliery was opened between 1830 and 1840 by
the Coalpit Heath Colliery Company, and the shaft, which was sunk to a depth
of 177m (580 feet), used for winding coal from the High, Hard and Holly Bush
seams. The engine, thought to have been a horizontal one, was later added to
supplement the horse gin, and worked through an adapted head frame above the
pit. The outcrop, to the north of Coalpit Heath, was being worked from the
early 18th century, using atmospheric engines. Ram Hill was one of the second
generation pits working the seam deeper down the anticline. The horse gin is
thought to have had a conical roof, with either one or two horses winding the
coal up and the men down the upcast shaft. The engine turned a flywheel
through a crank attached to a winding drum. Pump rods, linked to the beam,
worked a stone-lined sump linked to a reservoir a few yards to the north.
This was supplemented with rain water collected from the gin roof and fed
through a covered channel. Coal was stored in stone-lined bunkers and fed
into the drams through chutes or with a crane. It is alleged that the
holding-down bolts for the crane still exist in situ. The site was partially
excavated in 1985 by Avon Industrial Buildings Trust, and a resistivity
survey was done by Mrs Bridget Hetzel in 2004.
The following features are excluded from the scheduling: the boundary fence
and breeze block wall between the properties, wire and wooden fences, the
stone boundary wall, the gate into the site, the no parking sign, spoil heaps
and areas of tumble. The ground beneath all these features is, however,

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Coal has been mined in England since Roman times, and between 8,000 and 10,000
coal industry sites of all dates up to the collieries of post-war
nationalisation are estimated to survive in England. Three hundred and four
coal industry sites, representing approximately 3% of the estimated national
archaeological resource for the industry have been identified as being of
national importance. This selection, compiled and assessed through a
comprehensive survey of the coal industry, is designed to represent the
industry's chronological depth, technological breadth and regional diversity.
The term `nucleated' is used to describe coal mines that developed as a result
of increased capital investment in the 18th and 19th centuries. They are a
prominent type of field monument produced by coal mining and typically
consist of a range of features grouped around the shafts of a mine. The
simplest examples contain merely a shaft or adit with associated spoil heap.
Later examples are characterised by developed pit head arrangements that may
include remains of engine houses for pumping and/or winding from shafts,
boiler houses, fan houses for ventilating mine workings, offices, workshops,
pithead baths, and transport systems such as railways and canals. A number of
later nucleated mines also retain the remains of screens where the coal was
sized and graded. Coke ovens are frequently found on or near colliery sites.
Coal occurs in significant deposits throughout large parts of England and this
has given rise to a variety of coalfields extending from the north of England
to the Kent coast. Each region has its own history of exploitation, and
characteristic sites range from the small, compact collieries of north
Somerset to the large, intensive units of the north east. A sample of the
better preserved sites, illustrating the regional, chronological and
technological range of nucleated coal mines, together with rare individual
component features are considered to merit protection.

Although the site of Ram Hill Colliery and dramway has been partially
excavated, it will contain archaeological information and environmental
evidence relating to the colliery and the landscape in which it was
constructed. Ram Hill was one of a number of collieries in the area,
including Ram Engine mine about 200m to the west which was in operation in
1772, but is the only mining site on Coalpit Heath which survives without
having been incorporated into private property. It survives largely intact
because following its closure in 1860 it was acquired by the Great Western
Railway in 1900, and from then until the present time it has remained
As a group, the features represented at Ram Hill are very rare and of clear
national importance. They illustrate the technological development of horse,
and later steam winding, on the same site. The survival of the dramway, with
its sleeper blocks in-situ, is also of major significance. Further along its
length it is being preserved as an industrial archaeological pathway. A
number of buildings and sites are being preserved on its route, and the
dramway can be seen as a spinal pathway linking them together. Ram Hill, as
the northern terminus, is thus of great strategic importance.

Source: Historic England


In South Glos SMR items 3 & 18, Cornwall, J, Ram Hill Colliery Coalpit Heath, (1988)
Shane Gould, Step 3 Report, (1994)

Source: Historic England

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